EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PCOS

Salma Y. (Pharm-D)

Salma Y. (Pharm-D)

WHAT IS PCOS?

The polycystic ovarian syndrome is generally known as PCOS. This medical condition affects a woman’s hormone levels.

The name polycystic ovary syndrome describes the numerous small cysts (fluid-filled sacs) that form in the ovaries.

PCOS affects a woman’s ovaries, the reproductive organs that produce estrogen and progesterone — hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. Extra male hormones disrupt the menstrual cycle, so women with PCOS get fewer periods than usual.

PCOS is a “syndrome,” or group of symptoms that affects the ovaries and ovulation. Its three main features are:

·      Cysts in the ovaries

·      High levels of male hormones

·      Irregular or skipped periods

CAUSES

The exact causes of PCOS are still unknown. However, high levels of male hormones are considered a major contributor to PCOS.

Genes, insulin resistance, and inflammation have all been linked to excess male hormone production (androgen)

SYMPTOMS

The common PCOS symptoms are:

·      Irregular periods

·      Heavy bleeding.

·      Hair growth

·      Acne

·      Weight gain

·      Male pattern baldness.

·      Dark patches on the skin

·      Headaches

EFFECTS ON HEALTH

PCOS has many negative effects

Infertility

It is very hard to get pregnant with PCOS. It affects your fertility as you don’t ovulate normally.

Metabolic syndrome

Women with PCOS are overweight or have obesity. This can increase your risk for:

·      High blood sugar

·      High blood pressure

·      High bad cholesterol

Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is more common in women who are overweight — especially if they also have PCOS.

Endometrial cancer

If you don’t ovulate every month, the lining can build up as it doesn’t shed periodically. The buildup can increase your risk for endometrial cancer.

Depression

Several mood changes and hormonal changes lead to depression.

DIAGNOSIS

PCOS in women is diagnosed by:

·      Irregular menstrual cycles

·      Pelvic exam

·      Blood tests for detecting high androgen levels

·      Blood tests to check your cholesterol, insulin, and triglyceride levels

·      Ultrasound to check cysts in the ovaries

TREATMENT

There are two treatment approaches for PCOS

1.    LIFESTYLE AND DIET CHANGES

Treatment for PCOS starts with lifestyle changes like weight loss, a balanced diet, and exercise.

2.    MEDICINES TO TREAT CERTAIN CONDITIONS ASSOCIATED WITH PCOS

Menstrual problems

Birth control is the most common PCOS treatment for women who don’t want to get pregnant. Hormonal birth control — pills, a skin patch, vaginal ring, shots, or a hormonal IUD (intrauterine device) — can help restore regular periods.

Weight loss

When a healthy diet and regular exercise aren’t enough, medications can make losing weight easier.

·      Orlistat (Alli, Xenical)

·      Metformin (Fortamet, Glucophage)

Excessive hair growth

Sometimes PCOS causes unwanted hair growth, which your doctor can treat with medications and hair removal methods, such as:

·      Depilatories (These are creams, gels, and lotions that break down the protein structure of hair so it falls out of the skin.)

·      Electrolysis or laser therapy

·      Hormonal birth control

·      Spironolactone (Aldactone)

Fertility problems

Your doctor may prescribe medications:

·      Clomiphene

·      Letrozole (Femara),

·      Metformin

Other options to improve your fertility are:

·      Surgery (A procedure called ovarian drilling might make your ovaries work better. The procedure changes your hormone levels and may make it easier for you to ovulate.)

·      In vitro fertilization, or IVF

References:

https://www.healthline.com/health/polycystic-ovary-disease

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos/causes/

https://www.webmd.com/women/treatment-pcos

https://www.acog.org/womens-health/experts-and-stories/ask-acog/can-birth-control-pills-cure-pcos#:~:text=The%20type%20of%20birth%20control,excessive%20hair%20growth%20and%20acne.

https://www.lonasasserobgyn.com/the-best-birth-control-for-pcos-dr-sasser-offers-some-insight/

https://www.healthline.com/health/birth-control/best-birth-control-for-pcos

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos

 

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